milestone: teaching my first yoga class

My Kundalini Yoga practicum – teaching a ‘real’ class at our studio – took place last week. All trainees in my program taught over a 3-day Yoga-thon, me being placed in what I considered the least desirable spot – late Sunday afternoon. As someone who likes to get things over with, it was somewhat agonizing to wait around all weekend for my class to begin!

On one level, I wasn’t at all nervous about teaching. There was nothing to fear; I’d done all I could to prepare and I knew I’d be in a supportive environment. I didn’t have to be perfect. I’d never done this before!

But on another level, there was everything to fear. I could sense my ego kicking into overdrive, anticipating all that could go wrong. I knew the havoc this could wreak, so I took advantage of my extra time that Sunday morning and let myself fully feel all my nerves and anxiety. As if I had an internal dial, I turned all the uncomfortable sensations up to ‘Intense’.

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

The usual suspects turned up. Humiliation. What if I panicked on the spot, forgetting everything I’d memorized, and getting my notes all mixed up? Pride. I was afraid of losing face. I feared the pity of others – or their secret satisfaction – if I failed. (That’s a fun one to admit!) Shame. I feared being exposed as a fraud, an imposter. The list goes on. Ultimately, I feared failing God.

I knew this wasn’t just about the yoga class. These fears are deeply embedded in the human psyche. In such states we can’t access the knowing that we are eternal and infinite, fundamentally unaffected by whatever ego construes as danger. I prayed for humility, trust, self-compassion…and to have fun!

In true Mercury Retrograde fashion, there was an element of ‘expect the unexpected’. The trainee scheduled before me had become ill, and I was asked to teach her class as well. Two classes in a row?! I did not see that coming. I swear I could hear Yogi Bhajan chuckling in the ethers. Surrender.

And – things went well. It was a wee bit distracting to have my lead trainer evaluating me in the back of the room, taking copious notes throughout both classes…but the time flew by and I was provided wonderful feedback that bolstered my confidence and helped me see where I can improve. To be honest, once I got up there, things felt quite un-dramatic! I don’t recall my heart pounding as furiously as it had during my practice sessions. Yes, there were nerves – but it mostly felt comfortable and natural.

That’s not say it wasn’t a big deal. I’d accomplished a goal I’d dreamed about for years. This was a huge step!

Some passions are so obvious that we’re certain of them from a young age. Others, like my yoga journey, are more subtle and reveal themselves over time. Those dreams often take years of cultivation before they germinate. Even if feels like ‘nothing’s happening’, on some level, we know exactly what we’re doing. The dream itself wants to ensure we’re ready to receive and take good care of it. It deserves the best ‘us’ we can bring to it. And so, we have to prepare.

I’m not quite finished my training – I still have a final exam and another training session to complete – but regardless of what my Kundalini future brings, in my book, I’ve already succeeded.

***

On another note, I LOVE that this is my 108th post! 108 is a sacred number in yogic tradition, and this seems like a fitting opportunity to thank everyone who reads, follows, and comments on this blog. It is such a blessing to connect with, and learn from, you all. Thank you!

Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

passion, resistance, and kundalini yoga

I’m most motivated to write a blog post immediately after I’ve published one. I feel like I’ve just conquered a beast, and I’m ready to take on another.

That beast is Resistance.

There’s a release when I hit ‘publish’. Something inside me has broken free, creating space for new ideas and inspirations. I feel almost giddy and l promise myself I’ll write more often. But as days go on, I lose my mojo. And after about two weeks, I’ll find any excuse to avoid sitting down to write.

Turns out my experience is not unique. I’m halfway through Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, in which he lays out the numerous forms of resistance artists encounter in carrying out their sacred work. This book is rocking my world. Pressfield writes that we often meet the strongest resistance in creating that which is most meaningful and valuable to us – the work that comes from our heart and soul.

I’ve written about the pressure of passion before. Those of us who feel our passion eludes us can be so preoccupied with ‘finding it’ that it becomes a source of stress. We conclude that we must not have one, or that we’re somehow missing it. Either way, something feels wrong.

But this could be resistance in clever disguise.

Flaming Star, by my beautiful friend & artist Christyn Hall. She's painting 33 paintings in 30 days this month! See more of her gorgeous sacred art at http://christynmhall.com.

Flaming Star, by my beautiful friend & artist Christyn M. Hall. She’s painting 33 paintings in 30 days this month! Click on the image above or visit christynmhall.com to see more of her gorgeous sacred art.

The force of resistance is real, insidious, and relentless. Resistance discourages us from putting our barest selves out there, because we are then subject to potential humiliation, rejection, and failure. Resistance abhors change, because change puts us out of our comfort zone and compels us to be vulnerable. Resistance is mired in fear.

There are those who seem to unequivocally know what their sacred work is. They don’t have to search for their passion; it pulses in their bones. I used to think that they were ‘lucky’ to have their gifts flow through them so effortlessly. I envied that. I’m now seeing that they too encounter self-doubt and resistance. But they still show up to do their work.

To me, resistance is synonymous with ego. Resistance will stop at nothing to prevent us from doing what makes us feel truly self-expressed and in our power. Resistance is slippery and must be watched like a hawk. It knows all our weak spots and will even spend time contemplating the problem of resistance itself, to distract us from pursuing anything it perceives as threatening!

In my own life, I’m feeling it in the form of second-guessing my decision to begin my Kundalini Yoga teacher training. For the last ten years, I’ve seen myself becoming a yoga teacher…’someday’. Well, that day is here; the training starts next month, I’ve booked the days off work, and my application is completed.

And I’m questioning all of it.

Pressfield writes that what we most resist doing, we absolutely must do. The bigger the stakes, the bigger the payoff. This is an important message for me now. Having recently changed cities, I’m on new ground to show up in new ways. I am sensing the necessity to take more risks, to trust my inner knowing (and speak it), and do what I need to do because the time is ripe to do it.

Collectively, something big is in the air. We could look at the world today and become completely cynical and hopeless. No one would blame us. Or we could take advantage of a new energy that is growing all around us – an energy we ourselves have created in response to our collective pain and suffering. There are so many of us desiring a completely different way of being. Maybe our prayers have been heard, and we can live the lives we couldn’t before.

This new way requires trusting in the unknown and letting go of who we thought we were. And, of course, kicking resistance in the ass.

a letter to my friends (speaking my truth part 2)

Dear Friends,

I know I haven’t been the greatest friend lately. It used to be that you’d email me, and I’d respond right away. I might even answer my phone, or call you back in a timely manner. But something shifted when I quit my job last summer. Removing such a central element of life – one that had been in place a very long time – affected everything else, in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I’d quit my job with big ideas of future career directions…starting a business and finally being my own boss. I would be doing the kind of work I’d always done, I was good at it, and the demand for my services was high. It was a no brainer.

But it seems the universe had other ideas, and removing my 9-5 created the space for it to show me something else. Spending so much time with my own self, with nowhere I ‘had’ to be, plunged me deeper into my spiritual journey.

Quitting wasn’t just about becoming an entrepreneur, I now see. It was about aligning me with my authenticity and integrity. It was showing me those long forgotten places my true desires lay buried. Was this new venture something I really wanted to do every day? Or was it a more palatable variation of something that had never made my heart sing?

I see more clearly where I’ve been compromising myself in life, particularly in relationships. Most of you, my dear friends, haven’t seen the whole me – what I’m truly passionate about, what I deeply believe, what I want to do in this world, the role of the Divine Feminine in my life. I’ve compared myself to a lot of you, wondering why it’s taking me so long to get where you are. I haven’t fully understood the power of what’s taken place within.

We live in a material, 3D world where much of the planet is operating in fear, scarcity, and doing what’s always been done. It’s not ‘real’ if we can’t see or prove it. This mass consciousness is like a magnet, and we often get sucked into its programming, losing our hope and momentum to create a new paradigm based on love, interconnection, and empowerment.

The necessity to pay my rent is a reality, and I’ve been fortunate to have small jobs these past few months to get me by. But I’m hesitant to find something more permanent; intuitively it feels like a slippery slope. Months can easily turn into years, and I don’t want to act from fear and survival, putting myself in the same situation I was before. Doing something that doesn’t resonate with my soul takes an energetic toll that’s difficult to articulate.

What kind of work do I really want to do? What does it look and feel like? Do I believe it’s possible, that I’m capable and ready? Can I charge for it? Will people actually pay? Do I need more training? Am I good enough? What if I fail…exposed as an imposter?

Stop. Breathe.

If I don’t value my work, I won’t find those who will. There is a sense of urgency that compromising, in any form, is no longer an option. This planet is shifting and consciousness is evolving. Transformation and intensity are the norm, and the universe is ramping up what doesn’t serve. We can no longer fake it!

Many of us stand at a crossroads. We’re on the verge of something big, but we don’t have all the information. Sometimes all we have is a tiny shred of hope, and we must hang on to it with all our might. We’re creating a new reality in every moment, with every thought we think and action we take. It takes major courage to unhook from the old and put our faith and trust into something so brand new.

The more I speak my truth, the more I find others who are speaking theirs. And it’s a beautiful thing! This is the ultimate act of self-love…expressing our true selves because we value what is within us.

Friends, I’ve been given myself some much needed space and solitude. But I’m slowly emerging from my cocoon. Ready to show up as the real me, as she’s being revealed. Ready to see the real you in my reflection.

i’m not passionate, just curious

Last weekend I listened to a fabulous interview with Liz Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love (or EPL, as my bloggette pals like to call it) and The Signature of All Things. The discussion was full of gems, but what stood out was Liz’s take on passion.

‘Passion’ can be such pressure! Find your passion. Go after your passion. Live your passion. In Liz’s words, passion is a very ‘rock star’ state of being. But for many of us, including me, our passion is not obvious.  We can’t pinpoint it to something specific.

i took this by accident, but i like it

i took this by accident, but i like it

When our passion is not clear, we may feel bad about ourselves. We perhaps feel inept that we can’t find it, or assume we don’t have one.  We become blocked and discouraged. We believe passion should be *big*, so we don’t train ourselves to watch for more subtle cues from the universe. Maybe we don’t think those cues exist.

Liz suggests going with curiosity instead. Now this I can get on board with! The word ‘curious’ is showing up for me a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I watched a YouTube interview featuring the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, who wrote The Fire Starter Sessions – a hugely motivating manual on how to get-off-your-ass-and-start-really-living.  (This book has inspired me on so many levels, and is partly responsible for me quitting my job!)

Danielle spoke about discovering the top five feelings we want to cultivate in our lives, and living from those states, rather than focusing solely on achieving goals or acquiring ‘stuff’.

Curiosity made my list.

There are so many things I’m curious about; I couldn’t stop wanting to know ‘why’ if I tried! Curiosity keeps me interested in, and ever-learning about, life.  This is very important to me, as I don’t ever want to assume I know it all.  I especially want to stay curious about people. And our role in the mystery of the cosmos. (Ok, that’s another post.)

Curiosity is very powerful.  It will never burn out. It stokes itself!

I’m certainly not discounting passion; it can be a very good thing (hehe). But passion can be viewed as a sweet, deepening revealing, rather than something I have to find, now.  I’m relieved to take that pressure off myself.  And curious to see what unfolds as a result. 😉

 

follow the excitement

After my powerful women’s circle a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my good friend L. about our individual ways of knowing.

There’s no doubt that within the circle, I’d felt very connected to who I really am, to my essence. Moreover, it felt clear that my life’s work does not involve sitting behind a desk all day in a windowless office, coordinating processes and procedures that have little personal relevance to me.

But where in my body was I feeling this clear connection to self, this resonance with my truth? I didn’t necessarily feel it in my heart, or in my mind, or in any bodily sensation. It was just an overall feeling of…rightness. It was an absence of resistance, rigidity, and tension. It was Me, stripped of any outside roles.

I used to think that my intuition must speak to me in some really obvious way. I’d try to feel things in my heart, or in my third eye, or wherever else I thought I ‘should’ feel something – usually based on what others felt. And when I didn’t, I figured my intuition wasn’t very strong.

But as I told L after the gathering, maybe those aren’t my ways of knowing.

When I initially saw the women’s circle advertised in my Facebook feed, I just knew I had to take part, in the same way I immediately knew I wanted to enrol in a ‘Foundations of Conscious Leadership’ course offered around that same time. There was no second-guessing; my desire to participate in both was like a laser-beam. Sharp and focused, bypassing my analytical mind completely. No room for doubt. Yes.

These things excited me. There was a sense of aliveness and intrigue. And this excitement is my knowing.

Excitement moves things and shakes the universe up, irresistibly compelling it to work with us.

In a recent post I mentioned that, by total fluke, I’ve become the organizer of my high school reunion. (Let me be clear – I was not the party planner high school!) What literally started as a joke a few months ago has now become a hugely fun side project for me, sparking an interest I had no idea existed: I enjoy event planning!

I love making connections and seeing things come together. I like making s*** happen! I’ve been using my creative faculties in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated, and it’s because the universe put a cleverly disguised opportunity in my path – one I could’ve easily ignored.

***

So whenever I find myself saying ‘I don’t know what I want’ – and I’ve done that a lot, especially when I feel stuck in situations that don’t seem to be moving – I will remember these events of late. And know that I didn’t have to do anything to make them happen. In fact, I couldn’t have done anything, because they just kinda showed up unexpectedly.

I must follow my excitement and be open to things looking totally different from what I’ve been conditioned to believe is possible or likely. Opportunities can show up in the most random of ways, if we only have the curious eyes to see.

And we can trust that the universe is merely showing us what is already within.

 

Image credit: Rob Scharein, with my modifications

not stuck, just gathering information

As some of my blogging friends know, for a while now I’ve been employed in a job that I am not, er, totally passionate about.  While I appreciate the many perks it offers, I sense there is something much greater to align with.  I know a lot of people out there can relate.

Around this time last year, I gave my notice at my current job.  I was just fed up, and prepared to take a leap into the unknown.  Instead, at somewhat the last minute, I decided to take an unpaid leave of absence, and frolic around Italy for a few weeks.

But now I find myself slipping back to where I was a year ago (albeit forever changed by my travels).  Though I am focusing on appreciating the great things about my job, there is the ever-looming desire for something more.  Something that doesn’t feel like ‘work’, something intangible, but that is just effortlessly me…someplace where I don’t have to remind myself all day, every day, why I am grateful to be there.  Something that just is.

A few weeks ago I signed up for one of those extensive Career Assessment tests, just to get some inspiration and ideas.  The results proved interesting, but not surprising.  My ideal work profile was identified as Social/Artistic, the #1 recommended occupation being Photographer.  The second suggestion was the much-less-sexy-sounding Technical Writer (which doesn’t sound too Social/Artistic, but whatever).

This hasn’t made me want to run out and quit my day job, but the results affirm that there are more creative options for me to explore.  To that end, I’ve enrolled in a couple of Writing courses, to get the juices flowing.

On the career front, I’ve been inundating myself with Abraham-Hicks videos lately, and learning to not define myself as ‘stuck’, or focus on those aspects of my job I have found draining or unpleasant.  That feeling of stagnation can become very familiar (as many office workers know), and become my dominant perception of my situation.

So I’m wanting to move away from that.  Instead, I’m going to take the advice I’ve been giving myself for years.  Just do what you love to do.  (Or even what you like to do, if you don’t know what that is.)  Do whatever you can, wherever you can, however often you can, to get yourself into that place where you’re…well, doing what you love to do.  For the sake of just doing it.

Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?  Yet somehow I’ve resisted fully going there.  I’ve called myself ‘undisciplined’. I’ve promised myself I’ll do it later (meanwhile frittering time away on Facebook).  Or I’ve associated doing what I love with immediately making it a career or source of income, and becoming discouraged/overwhelmed right off the bat.  Or – I’ve liked the idea of doing it better than actually doing it, because what if I suck at it?  (I think they call that self-sabotage.)

In the past I have felt the pressure of time, or (more often) comparison with others, influencing me to make a shift – which only backfired, especially since I had no concrete idea of what to shift to.

But I’ve ceased calling myself ‘scattered’ or ‘unfocused’.  Now I’m trusting that it’s okay to be one of those people who actually likes and loves to do a lot of different things.  And my process is going to be unique; there is no standard timeline for anything.

Abraham’s teachings help me find my own balance between appreciation – I mean, really appreciating what is – and aligning with that expanded part of me that craves movement, growth, freedom, and abundance. I’m taking all the time I need to find this balance.  Because key to this process is authenticity with where I’m truly at.

Doing those things I really love to do, but have resisted for whatever reason, will require a willingness to occasionally step out of my comfort zone.  To get my feet wet.  In my two Writing classes, I will be required not only to share my work with others, but to give and receive feedback.  This will be interesting.  Though blogging has opened me up in many ways, writing has largely been a solo activity.  To share that part of myself with relative strangers (though I’m sure they won’t be in ten weeks!) is a little daunting.

But I’m up for it.  All this is part of vulnerability and growth.  This opening will create channels for more creative streams to flow.  Maybe I’ll even start doing those tarot readings my friends have been pestering me about!

After all, 2014 is all about doing things a little different.  No more holding back.

not quitting my day job

If you’d told me a month ago that I would make the decision to stay at my job, I would have thought…there’s no possible way.

But what can I say?  Life is continually allowing me to refine my desires, and I’m just going with what feels right.

A little background: I’ve been working in administration for several years and, particularly in the last few months, have felt the strong desire to move on to employment that is more aligned with my passions and creative interests.  To that end, a few weeks ago I gave my official notice at work, and began arranging an upcoming trip to Europe.

finding the balance...

finding the balance…

I didn’t really have a plan in place, except to enjoy the art, culture, and wine of Italy, and let inspiration find me.  And, until recently, I felt relieved with my decision.  I felt quite proud for taking a leap into the unknown, and following my dreams.  For saying ‘yes’ to adventure and freedom and wanderlust. (Let’s face it, that sounds pretty cool.)

I felt happy that I wouldn’t have to deal with the same old work scenarios, the same old dynamics, the same old…sameness of everything.

But as the weeks flew by, uncertainty crept in. Instead of feeling sustained excitement and adventure, I felt uneasy.  Was this too much change?  What are my dreams?  Will I be able to pursue them fully, and enjoy Europe, if I am stressed about finances and not having a job to return to?

I know many of us are facing ambivalence about our work.  How do we feel fulfilled and inspired in a career that, at times, feels like it’s sucking the soul right out of us?  How do we know when we’re finally done, that the universe is calling us to something higher?  When do we stay put, and when do we move on?

Having quit my job, I began to see more clearly, and deeply appreciate, its many positive aspects (including the best co-workers ever).  I realized that I’d been getting very comfortable with what I had, and taking much for granted.

I’d become so accustomed to focusing on the ‘negatives’ that I allowed them to completely eclipse the positives.

I started to observe: in which aspects of my job do I feel the most resistance, and how does this resistance play out in other areas of my life?  If I can transform that root resistance, will my experience of my job change?

For example, one of my beliefs is that I have no personal connection to the work I perform.  While this is somewhat true, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on this thought-form, and thus it has become a Big Problem.  I have over-identified with my job, allowing it to be reflective of who I am, when it is not at all Who I Really Am.  Moreover, I’ve felt that people are judging me for the ‘boring’ work that I do…when in reality it’s mostly me judging myself.  (There’s that ego again.)

I’ve also observed that I get emotionally triggered by certain people and interactions at work.  (Who can’t relate to that!?)  But interactions that push my buttons will follow me throughout my life, and in all scenarios, if I don’t find a way deal with them effectively, and in a way that feels good and empowering to me.

Every relationship is an opportunity to expand, and work peeps are no exception.  What energy/vibration/intention am I bringing to each interaction?  I’m going to be more diligent with this awareness, and I’m intrigued by the transformation that will undoubtedly occur.

I’ve also been carrying the mindset that I don’t love my job.  But the fact is, there are a lot of little things I do love about it.  And, in providing a foundation of stability, it enables me to do those things I truly love to do, even if I’m not doing them while physically at my desk.  It’s all about my own perspective.

Abraham-Hicks would advise that I continue to focus on these positive aspects, to get into a consistent state of gratitude that will align me with even more things to feel good about.  I have been practicing this in the last couple of months, and can honestly say that my life experience has changed for the better.  Things are happening – with my writing, with my trip, with a couple cool creative side projects I’ve been approached to work on.

do you think they ask themselves so many questions?

do you think they ask themselves so many questions?

So where does that leave my plan to ditch everything and hang out in Europe for a while?  I spoke with my employer and they were willing to arrange a two-month leave for me.  So instead of quitting outright, I’ll go on my trip and return to my job in the Fall.

This feels really good to me.  Perhaps I just need a grand adventure, something totally different, to reboot my system.  And I can then revisit matters when I’m back, with a fresh perspective. (Unless, of course, a handsome Italian whisks me away on his Vespa, which quite a few people think might happen…)

I really admire those that courageously pursue their dreams and, to be completely honest here, a small part of me feels like I’ve reneged on a promise I made to myself to do the same.  That little voice can’t help but wonder if my recent uncertainty reflects a lack of trust, a latent belief that I’m not worthy or capable of creating the life of my dreams. That by staying where I am (for the time being), I’m sending the message to the universe that I’m not serious about pursuing those dreams.

But of course that’s not my intent.  Let me be clear: my intent is to reframe my current situation (with gratitude), so that it allows the nurturing of my dreams – which are still evolving.  This is called appreciating, and maximizing, the best of both worlds.

Ultimately I am very grateful to have options to change things around if they’re not feeling right.  And as I tweak my desires, the universe responds with the support I need to make it happen.  I am the sole designer of my life, and I have complete creative control.

***

I’m off to a weekend workshop in beautiful Whistler, BC and am looking forward to the summer mountain air and connecting with kindred spirits, for what will likely be a very transformational couple of days. I’m sure I will glean some further insights there. 😉

Namaste.